GREED: One of the curators of the Serendipity festival seems to be trying to curry favour with the Munjals by blaming the government for not vacating the Adil Shah palace for the benefit of Serendipity. The government had refused to vacate the offices of ‘Panaji First’ located at the Adil Shah Palace
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
While the state of Goa is headless and is suffering from an acute shortage of water, power, parking spaces and massive traffic jams, the Parrikar government is adding to its misery by offering heritage structures and gardens in the heart of Panjim to the Munjals of Hero motors for holding the Serendipity festival. The logic seems to be ‘if you do not have water, eat cake’…
The French queen Marie Antoinette when faced with huge mobs of hungry people storming the palace in Paris asked “If they don’t have bread, why don’t we eat cake”. Similarly the government of Goa, or really the nonexistent government of Goa, is offering huge quantities of art and culture as a substitute for pani, bijli or .
There may be no water for even two hours a day. There may be repeated breakdowns in water supply leaving villages and even major towns without water for days. Since mining stopped water supply to Bicholim, Quepem, Curchorem, have stopped completely as the mining companies used to supply them with water. The mining pits which are part of mines and which are part of the water table are full of water. Nobody is willing to pump the water out so that there will be drinking water and water for irrigation purposes.
Most of the time there is a breakdown in water supply because there is no power for the pumps to supply the drinking water from Opa to Panjim city and to Bardez. Similarly, the transformers at the Selaulim waterworks which supplies drinking water to Salcete keeps breaking down. The underground pipes supplying water are themselves more than 40 years old.
When the Portuguese Water Department delegation from the water supply department came to Goa recently, they found that the only pumping station which was still functioning with minor problems, was Opa — set up by the colonial regime in 1948. Sudin Dhavalikar, who was demanding an apology from the Portuguese for demolishing temples in Goa, has entered into an agreement with the government of Portugal to create a proper drinking water system in Goa. This comes on the eve of Liberation day — December 19th — when the one lakh strong Portuguese army surrendered at 8:30 pm at Vasco.
The government is drowning us in art and culture when it cannot provide uninterrupted supply of power. We are all too familiar with all the frequent breakdowns in power supply. Every day there is an announcement by the power department that there is going to be a shutdown till 2 pm or the whole day. Every time the power shuts down you cannot use your electrical devices from irons to refrigerators.
Even worse than the power breakdowns are the violent fluctuations in power supply. This means that the power which is being supplied at 32 watts suddenly rises up to 100 watts — comparable to the heartbeat going from 100 to 300. This results in extensive damage to all electrical appliances. The irony is that even though the government may not supply you with the power allotted to you, you have to pay for it whether you get the power or not and whether or not it has damaged your appliances!
No continuous process industry can function in Goa without a inverter. Every time you buy a TV or washing machine or even a computer you need to have a stabiliser and UPS system. Only in Goa do you need generators to run factories or manufacturing units. This means huge additional cost to the big industries set up in Goa. The reason why the IT industry has never been attracted to Goa is not only because of lack of range but lack of power. How will the internet function without power supply.
Yet, in the midst of this lack of basic amenities, at the moment there are two major festivals going on. There is Serendipity which is organized by Sunil Kant Munjal, who owns Hero Motors, the biggest manufacturer of motorcycles in the country. We do not know why they chose Goa to hold their art and culture festival as Goa has a population of only 14 lakhs. Obviously it is for the benefit for tourists and outsiders who exceed the population of Goa, particularly in December, which is considered the peak of the tourist season.
NO REVENUE FOR GOA
Maybe the Munjals choose Goa because they also want a holiday and the Goa government is the only State government which gives them public buildings like the old Adil Shah Palace, the PWD complex, Children’s park and the old GMC buildings, where IFFI was held, free of cost. In other states they would have been charged at least lakhs, if not crores of rupees, for using public spaces to promote themselves as patrons of culture.
None of the events they are holding have anything to do with Goa, excepting one event where the work of Goan painters is being highlighted, curated by Vivek Menezes. Which is perhaps why Vivek Menezes on behalf of the Munjals questioned why the entire Adil Shah Palace has not been handed over to Serendipity. The office of the Panjim Smart City Initiative is lodged at the Adil Shah Palace which the Munjals wanted vacated.
The Munjals have taken over the old football stadium in Campal which was destroyed by Parrikar for IFFI. They have taken over the Sports Authority Grounds where young people used to play football and sport persons used to practice athletics. They have also taken over all the gardens in Panjim. And what have they offered in return? They have offered a honey tasting session of the best honey in the country. They are offering a spice festival which is conducted by a Goan-origin restaurant king from Bombay — Rahul Akerkar. They are holding exhibitions of paintings and live drama shows. But the live shows are more for khass aadmi than aam aadmi. All Panjim locals have got is more congestion and less parking spaces.
This is in sharp contrast to Sunaparanta which, unlike Serendipity and Sunburn, focuses on Goa and Goans. On Sunday while Serendipity had taken over all the government buildings and the gardens, Sunaparanta presented a unique visual biography of the world-famous Goan artist Francis Newton Souza. It traced the early years of Francis Souza in the ‘40s, during his school and college days and his early years in England.
It is among the best biographies of the artist I have come across. The grand children of the artist who are settled in London were present for the occasion.
It made me feel nostalgic because I met Souza and many other senior artists during my years in Bombay back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when both artists and journalists had lots of talent but no money.
We would sit on the steps of the Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda in Bombay city. All the members of the Progressive Group including Raza, Ara, Gaitonde and Akbar Padamsee, not to mention Hussain used to be there.
The owner of the gallery restaurant used to accept sketches and paintings in exchange, instead of money from the broke artists. When the artists became rich and famous she made a lot of money selling the sketches and paintings.
I knew the artists not only in Bombay but also in Baroda where my ex-wife was doing her masters in art. She subsequently was among the many women who was seduced by Akbar Padamsee who has broken more marriages than any other artist. I don’t know why the art world is silent about it.
The point is that we must have cultural and art events that promote Goans who contributed in great measure to the art and culture of Goa.
Some of the most famous artists, whether in the performing arts or the visual arts, are Goans. Lata and Asha Mangeshkar, the best singers in the country, if not the world, are of Goan origin. They are both still singing in their 80s.
Hindi film music owes a great debt to Goan who brought the concept of orchestra as they were trained in a variety of instruments by the local churches. Indeed, the song Amar Akbar Anthony was a tribute by the film composer Pyare Lal to his
Goan guru Anthony Gonsalves who died recently. Many of the classical singers like Mugi Bai and Kishori Amonkar are of Goan origin.
Other famous Goan artists are Gaitonde, Lakshman Pai and Vamon Sangoalkar who spend most of his time in Portugal. In the novel, ‘the Count of Monte Cristo’ the father of hypnotism was of Goan origin.
Some of the leading scientists of the country like Raghunath Mashelkar, who rose from being the son of a maid to becoming the Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, are Goan. So is Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
In every field you can find prominent Goans. One of the best journalists in the country was Frank Moraes who edited both the TOI and the Indian Express. His son Dom Moraes was among the best poets and the family still has an ancestral home in Santa Cruz.
If we have art and culture fests let us celebrate our own artistic and cultural heritage and not let Goa become the dumping ground for the artistic ambitions of rich industrialists in the country.